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Cumberland school board votes to close Lillian Black Elementary, Ireland Drive Middle schools

$470 million sought for 5-year plan to replace and renovate other schools


Lillian Black Elementary and Ireland Drive Middle schools will close after a unanimous vote by the Cumberland County Board of Education on Tuesday night.

The schools will not open for the coming school year.

The school board met at the county Educational Resource Center on Elementary Drive.

“The next step will be what will we do with the buildings,” board Chairman Greg West said after the meeting.

Lillian Black Elementary is an old, obsolete building, West said. Ireland Drive Middle will be combined with nearby Douglas Byrd Middle School.

In March, the school system initiated the steps required by law to consider closing the two schools at the end of the 2021-22 school year.

The final decision on Tuesday came without any discussion by members of the school board.

Public hearings on the plan were held in March and April, but no one spoke on the decision.

West said during Tuesday’s meeting that closing both schools was approved by a unanimous vote of the board’s Auxiliary Services Committee on March 1.

The 175 students who had attended Lillian Black have been reassigned to W.T. Brown Elementary in Spring Lake, along with 78 students from the southernmost part of the Manchester Elementary School district.

Ireland Drive Middle had 284 students in grades six through eight in its assignment area. The Auxiliary Services Committee voted to send those students to Douglas Byrd Middle School.

In the spring, the Board of Education voted to ask the county for more than $470 million to fund a five-year capital improvements plan to replace and renovate schools over the next five years. The funding would pay for construction of seven schools and the replacement or renovation of 18 others.

“That’s our capital needs,” West said after the meeting. “But we haven’t had any discussion with county commissioners specifically about that.”

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Cumberland County, Fayetteville, schools, Spring Lake, education